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Turkey supporters make controversial hand gesture on way to stadium for Euro 2024 match

BERLIN (AP) — Turkish supporters making their way to the European Championship quarterfinal against the Netherlands have been making the same nationalistic hand gesture that saw a Turkey player banned from the match.

Berlin police said on X on Saturday that the gesture was “massively shown” by the fans and they had therefore stopped their march and asked them to stop making it. Fans were asked to make their own way as individuals to the game – as long as they had a ticket for it.

“When a lot of people are doing this gesture, it becomes a political demonstration and a football march is not political demonstration,” police spokesperson Valeska Jakubowski told The Associated Press.

The fans were making a gesture that is used by Turkish nationalists and associated with the Turkish ultra-nationalist organization Ulku Ocaklari, which is more widely known as the Gray Wolves.

Jakubowski acknowledged that showing the gesture is not banned in Germany. She said some arrests were made, “very few,” but they were likely for other reasons.

Turkey defender Merih Demiral was banned for two games by UEFA on Friday for making the gesture after scoring in Turkey’s round-of-16 win over Austria in Leipzig on Tuesday, an incident that led to a diplomatic row between Turkey and Euro 2024 host nation Germany.

The ban rules Demiral out of Saturday’s quarterfinal, and the semifinal should Turkey progress.

The Turkish Football Federation joined Turkish government officials in denouncing the suspension.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan changed plans to visit Azerbaijan so he can attend Saturday’s match. He defended Demiral, saying on Friday the defender merely expressed his “excitement” after scoring.

Turkish “ultras” on Friday called on other supporters to make the same gesture during the national anthem before Saturday’s game.

Demiral and Turkish authorities have defended the sign as an expression of Turkish pride. Critics say it glorifies a right-wing group known for racism and violence against minorities.

The Gray Wolves group was founded as the youth wing of Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party, or MHP, which is currently in an alliance with Erdogan’s ruling party, the Justice and Development Party.

In the decades following its founding in the 1960s, the group was accused of involvement in politically motivated violence, mostly against leftist groups.

German authorities believe the group has around 12,100 in the country. It is monitored by Cermany’s federal domestic agency.

The group has been banned in France, while Austria has banned the use of the Gray Wolf salute.


AP Euro 2024: https://ift.tt/LrdKzXI

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